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Help design a new online program for family and friends supporting paramedics

2 March 2022

To better support paramedics experiencing mental ill-health and suicidal distress, Everymind is seeking the help of their family and friends to design a new online program.

Paramedics are regularly ranked as "the most trusted profession" in Australia. However, they experience disproportionate rates of trauma, PTSD, psychological distress and suicidal behaviour. More than half of those experiencing mental ill-health do not seek treatment or formal support.

Family members and friends provide most of the practical and emotional support for paramedics and are therefore key to improving the mental health and wellbeing of their loved ones.

Everymind Program Manager, Dr Sally Fitzpatrick, acknowledges that while this support role is often fulfilling, it can also be challenging for family and friends.

“Supporting a paramedic who is experiencing mental ill-health or suicidal distress can be very rewarding, but being their support person can often come at a significant physical, emotional and social cost.” Dr Fitzpatrick said.

“So, it is also important that we build the knowledge and skills of family and friends to provide care and that their own wellbeing is supported. Our new Minds Together program will assist people in supporting paramedics while fostering their own wellbeing”.

By taking a short online survey, family and friends can ensure that the program provides them with what they need to support their loved ones.

“The experiences, knowledge and advice of family and friends supporting a paramedic experiencing mental ill-health or suicidal distress must be at the front and centre of this program. We greatly value the time, knowledge and insights they can share to help their peers.”

Dr Sally Fitzpatrick - Everymind Program Manager

The program will be delivered online, offering stories of lived experiences from fellow paramedic first responders and their family members. It will also feature a moderated social networking platform where users can connect with peers and overcome feelings of isolation.

The new Minds Together program for adults supporting a paramedic is funded by Movember and is supported by our research partners, NSW Ambulance, Fortem Australia and The University of Newcastle. A Family and Friends Reference Group is also overseeing the development of the program.

This online survey was open until the end of July 2022, and partners, spouses, family members, friends and colleagues were all encouraged to share their views and experiences.

For more information about Minds Together for family and friends supporting the mental health of paramedics, visit www.everymind.org.au/supportingparamedics

Everymind is a national institute dedicated to preventing mental ill-health and suicide, delivered through best-practice programs, communication, policy responses and translational research.

If you are experiencing distress and need help, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.